All Things Brooklyn From Your Friendly Neighborhood Optimist
Democrats will vote for the Democrat. Republicans will vote for the Republican. That’s how it has always been. John McCain and Joe Biden are politicians. They know their numbers, and they know Washington. What is different about this election is culture. Where is America going, culturally?This is where Barack Obama and Sarah Palin come in. Some say race is a factor against Obama, but I say it is the opposite: Obama has been propelled upwards by his skin color. The positive ‘racism’ (Black-Americans supporting him, White-Americans feeling guilty about the legacy of slavery) far outweighs the few remaining pockets of negative racism (traditional bigotry) that still exist in our country. Whereas Black-Americans account for 12 percent of America, women number about 51 percent.This is where America’s reaction to Sarah Palin gets interesting. It is not only sexism at play, but regionalism too. Keep in mind that America’s reaction could be vastly different from the media’s reaction, which tries to intervene in how America thinks and observes for itself.For the last decade, American women have been trying to become either the fifth ‘Manhattanite’ cast member of ‘Sex and the City’ or a ‘Desperate Housewife’ on Wisteria Lane. The White male executives who created, packaged and marketed these female stereotypes have made plenty of money as women across America spent time and money trying to become ‘Carrie Bradshaw’. But somehow, these wanna-be’s never lived it up as glamorously.Sarah Palin is all about God, Family, Country and Shot-Guns. She is a completely New American Woman. She was not constructed by a Public Relations agency in either New York City or Los Angeles. She is not a Hollywood creation. Sarah Palin is simply a product of American small-town wholesomeness: happy childhood, hard work, self-discipline and a bright, and almost chirpy, outlook on life. Sarah is not the high-maintenance, drama-seeking, bulimia-suffering fragile caricature of a working woman as peddled by TV. Her husband, Todd Palin, is not a neurotic metro-sexual obsessing over the price of organic arugula, or whining about his commitment phobias to his shrink. He is a man’s man, and frankly, a woman’s man: just your regular American guy—wholesome and uncomplicated. Sarah and Todd are American ‘retro’, but it is retro made cool all over again. They are a brand of Americana that has been tested and true—genuine, confident and mature.Something happened to the Obama brand on the way to the election. It is as if the fashion gods decided that “Didn’t you know? No one wears Obama after Labour Day.”Once exotic and different, the Obama brand has been turned into something weird and creepy. “Obama’s Witnesses,” “Obama’s Blue-Shirts,” “The Obama Youth Fraternity League”…Plus, after the initial swooning over him, most people still think that there’s something “off” about Obama; as if he’s hollow, or hiding something. Today, the Obama brand has become decidedly “uncool”. That’s why people tuned out from watching him debate McCain.On the other hand, Americans are discovering that they are intrigued by Sarah Palin. The TV pundits may want to spin things their way, but the surest measure of who won the Vice-Presidential Debate is that, at the end, the vast majority of viewers walked away from their TV sets and said to themselves, “I’d like to see more of Sarah Palin—unfiltered and uncut.”The Obama camp may be celebrating too early. There are still plenty of people out there that haven’t made up their mind, and Obama’s triumphalism may begin to sound like arrogance, and he’s already been accused of that. This is indeed a culturally interesting time to be an American.
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